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What Is Most Important in Your Life: What You Own or How You Feel?

What Is Most Important in Your Life: What You Own or How You Feel?
The draft introduction of my unfinished Master's research essay.

Last August, my partner, Christiaan, moved to Montreal from Toronto to start a new job. I helped him move and spent the next five weeks with him before returning to Toronto in September.

His new studio apartment was a significant downsizing from the two-bedroom, two-story apartment we had in Toronto. Yet, the significantly smaller space provided me with the opportunity to reflect on the meaning — and importance — of my possessions.

I didn’t have a date for when I was going to be able to move to Montreal so we could be together.

However, after spending five weeks together — without much of our other furniture still in Toronto, my books, artwork, and other things, I was surprised that I missed none of those things. All I had with me for that five-week period in Montreal were a few books, my computer, clothes, and my journals. I was content.

I felt a liberating awareness that I could let go of everything I had ever purchased, including a unique piece of art that moved me so much when I first saw it that I had to buy it. But that’s another story!

Not Quite the Picture of Dorian Gray
It was February, 1995. I was 30 years old, living alone for the first time in a bachelor apartment in Ottawa, when I bought my first piece…

A moving date was finally set for the end of November.

In the last week of packing, while sorting through my notes and books from University, I started to cry. In a storage box, I found the introduction to my Master's Research Essay (1996) that I had completely forgotten about. The memories and emotions of that time, the empowering impact that my graduate advisor had upon me, and my “failure” to complete my Master’s came rushing back.

My biggest struggle was being able to let of go of class notes and my collected German textbooks from over 30 years ago.

I decided to only keep my final essays, which are not digitized. One small banker's box filled with yellowing printed essays, marked up with various professors' notes and final grades. Everything else I gave away.

This experience made me realize how deeply intrinsic my values are.

Those essays are physical manifestations of my IDEAS — which are more important to me than any of my external possessions.

What do you value more: How you feel or what you own?